This story was first published in the Civil and Military Gazette on 11 May 1887, and collected in the first edition of Plain Tales from the Hills in 1888 and in subsequent editions of this collection.
Miss Jhansi McKenna is six foot high, all yellow freckles and red hair, a formidable figure on the dance floor. She is held in great regard in the regiment, as Mulvaney explains, because of her mother, Bridget McKenna, wife of the Colour Sergeant of ‘B’ Company, called ‘Ould Pummeloe’. Ould Pummeloe had saved many lives at the cost of her own when the regiment was stricken by cholera in a troop train, and they had never forgotten her.
Despite Angus Wilson’s observations about Kipling’s lack of interest in music, apart from hymn-tunes and the music-hall, ( pp. 56 & 201) one cannot help wondering if the title of this story was inspired by La Fille de Régiment (1840) by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) which he might have seen in London or India – perhaps reviewing it for the Civil and Military Gazette.
©John McGivering 2004 All Rights Reserved